Honor One Another {His Story}

It was a startling wake up I wasn’t expecting.  “Ken, I think I lost the baby!”  Quickly our plans for this Easter day faded and the new plan included a trip to the hospital.  

The celebration of Easter or Resurrection Day is about life—Christ risen to life after a cruel death, and new life for all because Christ rose from the grave.  Easter 2006 was a celebration of life but not in the way we had expected.  After having four children without major pregnancy complications, and currently at 16 weeks without any issues, a miscarriage was not even on our radar.  But God had different plans for this Resurrection morning.  Waiting for my mom to come watch the kids, I loaded Julie in the car. 

At the hospital they put us in a room and it was true; our anticipated baby #5 had been welcomed home in the arms of Jesus.  Shock.  That was the word that describes how I felt that morning.  Almost like, how did I get here?  It was surreal.  We were waiting in the ER for Julie to be checked and the nurse informed us that the Salvation Army band would soon start playing and roaming the hall for their annual Easter visit.  Where was I?  What was happening?  

We were released from the hospital later that morning.  I got Julie home and settled and had to get her a prescription.  As I was driving to get the medicine, the song, “Praise You in the Storm” by Casting Crowns came on the radio.  That’s the first point that reality started setting in, and I cried and sang.     

Physically, Julie was fine, but emotionally she was in a lot of pain.  Both of us were.  But reality was, we had four other gifts of the Lord that needed us.  We couldn’t just shut down.  So I jumped back into life—kids to school, church activities, piano lessons, and work.  In the process we began to learn that Julie and I grieve differently.  Surprise, right? 

I just put my head to the plow to move forward, sometimes crying and feeling pain, but keeping my eyes on the reality of our child in the arms of Jesus and four other children needing my time and attention.  Julie on the other hand needed those moments of reality to settle in, and time to just cry and ask, “why?”  She needed to talk about it and understand what happened.   She is a thinker, and so she thinks and grieves. She researches and grieves.  She needed to ask the question, “Why?”

I didn’t.  I didn’t want to think through it, I wanted to move forward.  But God put us together in this and I needed to honor Julie for how she was grieving, even when I didn’t do it in the same way.  God created her and made her this way.  Who was I to say she was doing it wrong?  We began learning to grieve together, which was good, because more was around the corner.

As we processed through the loss of baby #5, we reconciled it in our minds as a fluke.  A one-time thing.  Again, we had four pregnancies without issue.  Certainly this wouldn’t happen again.  September of that same year we found out we were pregnant with #6, so excited that God would bless us one more time!

The first trimester we kept it pretty quiet.  As we passed the 16th week, we seemed to breathe a sigh of relief.  A few weeks later, the doctor gave Julie a test and wanted her to get a level two ultrasound.  It was the week after Christmas, and I wasn’t overly concerned as it seemed to be a routine test.  But that quickly changed when the technician could not find a heartbeat.  We were sent back to our doctor who confirmed that our baby #6 was gone.  For the next two weeks through the holidays, Julie carried the baby and we waited.  And we waited.  We waited for Julie to go into labor naturally, all the while trying to keep the celebration of the holidays in front of our other four.  Finally, for the sake of Julie’s health, the doctor sent us to the hospital to induce labor.  And once again we went home to face the reality of four children that needed us and life that continued to move.    

Grief is a crazy thing.  One day you wake up feeling pretty good and in the next moment you are overwhelmed with sadness that cripples you.  Because of these swings, grief can easily drive a wedge between a husband and wife.  I saw us grieving in different ways and at a different pace, and I realized that my job as a husband was to honor my wife through her way of grieving—not honor her only as long as she grieved the way I did. 

Romans 12:10b says, “Outdo one another in showing honor.  The word honor means to respect or esteem.  For me to honor the way Julie would grieve, I first needed to help her heal physically, which meant picking up the slack around the home with the kids and the house itself.  It meant listening to her as she processed through different aspects of the loss, and allowing her to talk about the “why’s” and “how’s” as she researched medical information.   It meant holding her as she cried out of nowhere, and praying for her to see God in all of it. 

I struggled at times with my selfish attitude of thinking, “why are we still talking about this?”  Remember, I grieve by putting my head down and moving forward.  But to truly honor Julie, I was called to come along side of her as she grieved in the way God made her.  Funny thing though, through the process of me helping Julie grieve, I ended up grieving in a better way myself.  In the end I think we both had more complete healing because we could honor each other in our grieving. 

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Ken and his wife Julie have four children on earth, and two little ones in heaven. Ken serves as an elder at his church where he and his wife also oversee the counseling ministry.






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